Thursday, October 2, 2008

Halloween’s Coming (Hide Your Heart)

I walked into a Wal-Mart this weekend and straight into Halloween. Candy, costumes, moving six-foot-tall butler’s offering trays laden with assorted creepiness. Holiday frivolity abounds– get ready, kids.

For me, it just conjured up memories that didn’t need to be conjured. But Halloween's coming (again), with the inevitability of something that', inevitable, and I can't stop it.

Halloween (which originated in Ireland, by the way) is one of those holidays I never seemed to be able to master. Great costume ideas that come to you in an alcoholic fog in February (That would be GREAT!) have long dissipated into the ether come harvest time.

Late afternoon on Halloween usually finds me slouching down the aisles of the Dollar Store wondering how much tin foil is needed to cover my body (too much), if this white jumpsuit can be fashioned into an ironically funny costume (no, decidedly not), or even considering trying to be Instant Karma again (Which, done right, will get you punched. Or maybe I had it coming.), in any case, I’m always screwed.

So, yeah, costumes. Not good at them. I blame my mother. Growing up, every year was an argument, every year I lost. When I was ten, all I wanted to be was a bum (I know, be careful what you wish for), and she said “No, you’re going to be a hobo, people don’t like bums, they’re dirty.” So while I scurried up to my room to look up “semantics” she started in on assembling what she believed to be the prototypical hobo costume. I’m guessing her “vision” was something like this:

Yeah, I'm sure in her mind's eye she saw me walking down the street, my bedroll tied to the end of a stick and thrown jauntily over my shoulder, dabbing the hobo sweat from my hobo brow with my perfectly starched hobo bandanna, all the while minding my manners and reaping more than my fair share of treats. That's right, her son, King of the Bindlestiffs.

I didn't have the heart to tell her that I was going trick-or-treating with Tim Murtha who was getting his sister to dress him in drag. He was a little ahead of his time, because I don't think "dressing in drag" had entered the common parlance yet. Then again, his whole family was a trend-setting, devil-may-care bunch. Which I think, in some small part, was the reason Mr. Murtha would wander his front yard, barefoot and shirtless with beer in hand, cursing at his crabapple trees.
So, anyway, off Tim and I went, looking like "Of Mice and Men" meet "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." And of course he (she) was the big hit. I ended up with half a sack of taffy and Murtha ended up with multiple bags of swag, looking like the Grinch right after he wiped out Whoville. I think some of those ladies are still sending him cakes and pies every Halloween.

Anyway, there's a lesson in there somewhere, but that would require years of therapy.

All that said, there is one small gift Halloween brings. For me, Halloween's single purpose is to serve as my own personal Distant Early Warning system, alerting me that the "family" holidays are closing in. Breathing down my neck. That the fresh hell of Thanksgiving and Christmas are approaching. And they always end badly.

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